I Feel Every Stone of the Road
In 1944, at the end of the Warsaw Uprising, Polish freedom fighter Hanka Witkowska was interned at the hands of the Nazis in prisoner of war camps in Poland and Germany. She was twenty years old and had fought with the underground movement throughout the occupation. During her time in the camps she kept a diary.
Hanka was my grandmother. As a child I was an avid listener of her war stories, but it was in 2011 (eight years after she died of old age in London) when I came across the diary she wrote that I began researching her experiences in more depth.
I Feel Every Stone of the Road presents a journey across Europe by way of the prisoner of war camps that she was held in. I have attempted to look again and connect with the landscapes that she saw. The photographs were taken in Poland, Germany, Holland and Belgium, 70 years after she was liberated. The route traced the prisoner of war camps where Hanka Witkowska was held after the end of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. The photographs in this series are a contemporary response to Hanka’s experiences. The accompanying text is spoken and is a seamless combination, a non-linear narrative, of Hanka’s writing and the photographer’s. The text proposes an emotional context for the photographs, and imagines a space for words to be spoken which can never be said to Hanka, nor spoken by Hanka to the photographer, or to the spectator.
“Through thin and torn soles of my shoes I feel every stone of the road,”
from the diary of Hanka Witkowska, 15th October 1944.